This year's autumn is different than any other, for a couple reasons. Obviously, I'm pregnant, which is drastically different than any other year. But on a deeper level, it's a time of grieving and reflection for me because the baby I miscarried early this year was supposed to be born mid-October. Appropriately, October is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance month. Since I lost that baby, my emotions have run the gamut. It's such a personal and private thing, to feel and know that my body lost a baby we'd waited and wished for so long. And yet, millions of women across the world are navigating pregnancy loss or infant loss, and the worst part is they're doing it alone. It's hard not to feel shame, to blame myself for what happened. I believe strongly that talking about it with our loved ones is important, if only so that the next woman it happens to doesn't feel shamed and lonely.
Processing my grief has been a long road. I'm still working on it. When we learned that I was pregnant again, I had to process further. I guess I expected myself to get past the loss faster, particularly once my body was carrying another child. Why should I still long for the first baby when I now have this one who is growing so magnificently? Because they're not the same, I learned. I had dreams and hopes about the first child I was growing - that baby was already a person to me. And when I lost him, I lost all the things I'd been thinking of and wishing for that person. It's only natural that losing the first baby would affect my feelings about the next one, so when this pregnancy came along, I worried. I worried all the time, in every spare moment I had in which I wasn't sick or asleep. I tried really hard to be calm and trusting and accepting that my body could grow a healthy pregnancy, but I constantly would relive the profound sorrow of saying goodbye. In time, I passed the point I lost the first pregnancy and began to worry slightly less. Then I passed the end of the first trimester and started to really believe that a new family member would be born. Now we've passed our anatomy scan ultrasound and I've seen our little seal pup swimming inside me and it hits me like a ton of bricks that I love everything about this child.
It bothers me that it took so long for me to see it. I feel guilt that this babe might have somehow felt that I wasn't all the way on board at the beginning. But I'm ready for you now, little selkie child.
The time during and after the miscarriage, I thought fiercely to myself that if I ever (no, not if, WHEN, WHEN) became pregnant again, I would force myself to be grateful every day. I would cherish the time I got to carry another person within myself, to be responsible for growing another being. Funny, how when this pregnancy came along it shattered all the expectations of how I'd feel - because I felt like shit. That certainly wasn't in the plans. Some days, it was hard to remember that I felt so terrible BECAUSE I was growing another being. I didn't have any room for logic and reason. I didn't feel grateful, I felt angry because clearly, I'd paid my dues already by losing a pregnancy, shouldn't this one treat me nicely?! Turns out, it doesn't work that way.
Now, we're already more than halfway through. Today, I'm so much closer to my own self again and I really am grateful about that. I no longer hate and resent all food - I can even cook food for myself! I can tolerate the smell of cooking food! I can boil water without it making my stomach heave! It's miraculous. The baby happily obliges me by fluttering and kicking and squirming around much of the day. My belly has begun to swell and really look like a round pregnant belly, despite how all my clothes make it look different than I perceive it. E enjoys talking about our baby and the things she will teach the baby (like how to crawl on sand into the ocean and do Crazy Eye). She's very good about being gentle with my abdomen and can hardly wait to feel the baby kicking. E also has started telling us that she's growing a baby in HER uterus, and her breasts will get milk, too. We've covered Biology 101 with her, but that hasn't deterred her enthusiasm for having a baby of her own.
Today I feel all the things I wished I'd gotten to feel with that first child. I feel all the happy emotions I told myself I would feel when I got to carry another pregnancy. It may have taken me longer than I'd like, but I'm glad I made it. I can't promise how tomorrow will go, but for today, that's enough.